Ski touring, Freeride | Feb 18, 2022

How to choose and use an avalanche probe

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Are you a seasoned freerider who loves nothing better than to spend time away from the groomed slopes? Then you surely know about the importance of avalanche safety equipment. Are you an off-piste newbie who’s just starting to learn the ropes of backcountry skiing? Then it’s time for you to find out about safety in the mountains! 

You might already know that a standard avalanche set consists of an avalanche transceiver and an avalanche shovel (and possibly an avalanche airbag). But did you know that an avalanche probe is another must-have for all backcountry enthusiasts?

Together with the mountain safety experts of Mammut, we have taken a closer look at avalanche probes.

What is an avalanche probe?

An avalanche probe is a metal rod used to probe through avalanche debris. It helps you pinpoint the exact location of a buried victim and measure the burial depth. This makes avalanche probes an essential part of any avalanche safety equipment as they allow for quick action to be taken.

Did you know? It takes about twice as long to dig out a victim without an avalanche probe. While with a snow probe, the average rescue time is 11 minutes, it increases to up to 25 minutes without a probe. Considering that rescue within the first 15 minutes is crucial for the victim’s survival, getting a good-quality snow probe is somewhat of a no-brainer.

© Mammut Archive
© Mammut Archive

What should you look for in an avalanche probe?

There are several aspects to consider when choosing an avalanche probe:

Probe length

Make sure that your probe is no shorter than two metres. Many backcountry travellers prefer longer probes as they leave you with more space between your hands. This makes the probe less likely to break, and it is also easier on your back. The downside: A longer probe is heavier and not as easy to pack.

Our tip: Go for a probe length between 240 and 300 centimetres.

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Probe material

Most avalanche probes are made of carbon fibre or aluminium. Both have their pros and cons:

Carbon fibre probes …

  • … are lightweight.
  • … are easier to pack.
  • … are slightly more expensive.

Aluminium probes …

  • … are slightly heavier.
  • … are more effective in dense snow.
  • … are more durable.
  • … often come in longer lengths.

Probe handling

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During an emergency, every second counts. That’s why it’s vital to get a probe that’s fast and easy to deploy. Make sure you know how to use it – practice deploying it at home with gloves on!

Our tip: Visit an avalanche safety course! The professionals there will show you the correct use of avalanche safety equipment.

Our top picks

If you’re looking for a high-quality, reliable avalanche probe, we recommend Mammut products, for instance, the Carbon Probe 280 speed lock.

Why we like this one:

  • It is easy to use, especially during stressful situations.
  • It has an easy-grip probe puller.
  • It provides accurate scaling for fast determination of burial depth. 
  • It has a visual guide system that makes it easier to see when you are close to the buried subject.
  • It has a speed lock system with acoustic and haptic feedback when tensioning the probe.
  • It offers maximum probe stiffness and a space-saving design.


Ready to hit the backcountry? If you’re still missing some high-quality freeride equipment, don’t hesitate to visit INTERSPORT Rent.

At our rental shops at the best ski resorts across Europe and Canada, you can find a vast selection of rental equipment for unforgettable freeride adventures. For instance, how about testing the latest freeride skis or a snowboard by your favourite brand? Of course, we also have the right boots and accessories to go with it …

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